Dalit leaders on Thursday appealed to their community members to assemble outside court in Una town of Gir Somnath district on January 3 and extend support to fellow community members who were allegedly assaulted by a group of gau rakshaks and are fighting a legal battle now. “To extend support to victims of Una and to make them believe that they are not alone but entire Dalit community is behind them, we hereby appeal to Dalits of Gujarat to assemble in big numbers in Una court on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 to repay to the community and ensure that sacrifices made by the community do not go in vain,” read a message circulated on social media by Saurashtra Dalit Sangathan (SDS), a group of Dalits of Saurathtra region.
The message further said that community members of the accused had been assembling in big numbers at the Una court at every hearing. “The community will not forget how it had agitated after the Una incident. Presently, the case is sub-judice. But the troubling aspect is that the supporters of the other party have been assembling in big numbers at every hearing. On the other hand, there would be only a handful to stand beside the Una victims and this is a matter of shame,” the message, sent out of by SDS further read.
Seven Dalits were allegedly assaulted by a group of cow rakshaks (cow vigilantes) in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir Somnath district on July 11 this year when they were allegedly skinning carcass of a cow. Four of them were allegedly kidnapped, brought to Una town and flogged before police rescued them. Criminal Investigation Department (crime) had investigated this case. The agency had arrested 42 persons, including four policemen and three minors in connection with the case. The investigating agency has already filed two chargesheets in the case while it is in the process of filing the third one.
“Prosecution will submit documentary evidence to the court on January 3 against the accused. Based on that evidence, we shall argue to frame charges against the accused,” special public prosecutor Dipendra Yadav told The Indian Express, adding the accused will also be produced in the court that day. Deven Vanvi, convenor of SDS said, they were trying to mobilise Dalits to extend moral support to the victims. “Supporters of the accused have been mobbing the court premises every time they are brought there. Such a crowd apparently puts the victims under pressure. Therefore, it is important for Dalits also to be there and stand beside them. This is happening because the state government has not established a special court to hear the case as was promised by then chief minister Anandiben Patel,” said Vanvi.
While 15 of the accused are out on bail, remaining are still in judicial custody. They are produced in the Una court once every two week. Vanvi said they had already submitted memoranda to district collectors demanding establishment of special court. “We have submitted these memoranda to Chief Minister through district collectors. We want to know if the new CM intends to establish a special court to try the case as had been promised by her predecessor,” he said.
Presently, Una additional sessions judge who has been designated to hear cases filed under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by principal district and sessions judge of Gir Somnath has been hearing the case.